Spotlight on the Netherlands: Il Canto delle Dame

To listen to this show, you must first LOG IN. If you have already logged in, but you are still seeing this message, please SUBSCRIBE or UPGRADE your subscriber level today.

Program: #07-02   Air Date: Jan 01, 2006

Women composers achieved more fame as composers at this time than any since the Troubadour era. The Concert Soave featuring the brilliant Maria Cristina Kiehr treat us to music by Barbara Strozzi, Caterina Assandra, Isabella Leonarda, Francesca Caccini, and other remarkable women in this concert.

We continue our long and fruitful association with our partners at Radio Netherlands in presenting a series of concerts from the 2006 Holland Festival of Early Music at Utrecht.

We will also direct listeners to their web site, which will provide more in-depth information about the music and performers we hear as well as more information about the festival (

For its 25th anniversary, the entire 2006 Festival was dedicated to the early Italian 17th century:

NOTE: All of the music on this program was performed by the Concerto Soave featuring Maria Cristina Kiehr, and is dedicated to the work of women composers. As the program notes:

The narrow group of female composers to gain fame in the 17th century remains a uniquely Italian phenomenon. coinciding with the rise of monody promoted in the Florentine camerata. One of the most famous of the women, Francesca Caccini, was the daughter of the singer, teacher and composer Giulio Caccini. She enjoyed the refined entourage of the Medici family, where she could flourish as a composer and singer. Her music is of no lesser quality than her father's, as speaks from her exquisite use of ornamentation and her mastery of dissonance and complex rhythms.

Caterina Assandra had to make do without the stimulating competition of vibrant court life, being a nun in the convent of St. Agthe in Lomello. From her sole collection of two-and three- part motets, we could infer that she was influenced by the Milanese liturgical tradition, the Ambrosian rite. In her music, she strikes a particularly serene balance between the monodic style and the Palestrinian heritage.

Isabella Leonarda's music breathes the same atmosphere of serenity. When she was 16, she entered the Ursuline order...except for a very modern collection of violin sontatas, she left only sacred music.

Distinctly less scared are the works of Barbara Strozzi, without doubt the first among her colleagues. Given that she worked in Venice, a certain resemblance to the music of Cavalli and Monteverdi is to be expected. The majority of her works are secular, except for one collection of sacred music dedicated to Anne of Austria.

--BARBARA STROZZI (1619-1677): Salve Regina (from Sacri musicali affetti, Libro I...Venice, 1655).

--CATERINA ASSANDRA (c.1590-after 1618): O quam suavis (from Mottetti a due e tre voci, Op. 2...Milan, 1609).

--FRANCESCO MARIA BASSANI (?--?): Toccata per B quadro.

--CATERINA ASSANDRA (c.1590-after 1618): Veni sancte Spritus.

--ASCANIO MAYONE (c.1565-1627): Toccata terza.

--ISABELLA LEONARDA (1620-1704): Dulcis amor (from Vespro a cappella della Beata Vergine...Bologna, 1678).

--Anon.: Toccata arpeggiata (Chigi MS., Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome).

--FRANCESCA CACCINI (1587-after 1641): Lasciatemi qui solo (from Il primo libro delle musiche...Florence, 1618).

--FRANCESCA CACCINI (1587-after 1641): Fresche aurette vezzosette (from Il primo libro delle musiche...).

--FRANCESCA CACCINI (1587-after 1641): Non so se quel sorriso (from Il primo libro delle musiche...Florence, 1618).

--BARBARA STROZZI (1619-1677): Amante segreto (from Ariette a voce sola, Op. 6...Venice, 1655).

--GIOVANNI FELICE SANCES (c. 1600-1679): Proserpina Gelosa: Dal piu profondo abbisso (Venice, 1636).

Composer Info

BARBARA STROZZI (1619-1677), CATERINA ASSANDRA (c.1590-after 1618), FRANCESCO MARIA BASSANI (?--?), CATERINA ASSANDRA (c.1590-after 1618), ASCANIO MAYONE (c.1565-1627), ISABELLA LEONARDA (1620-1704), FRANCESCA CACCINI (1587-after 1641), GIOVANNI FELICE SANCES (c. 1600-1679)

Note: The contact information in this episode may be out-of-date. You can contact us at this current link.